Shakur Stevenson surveys his rivals with an air of icy derision. The 23-year-old New Jersey native has watched on this year as other fighters have unified titles and scored spectacular knockouts, yet nothing has dissuaded him from his own assessment of the competition.
“If you’re asking me to be honest, I’m the best one there,” Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) tells Boxing Social. “I’m not looking for right now. I’m looking at 10 years later, down the line. Who’s the last one standing? And I know that I’m gonna be the last one standing, regardless. I think I’m the most slick. I’m gonna be that one fighter they’ll see in the Hall Of Fame. Looking at it right now they don’t see, but I know what I know and I know that later on down the line I’ll be the one that’ll be a superstar of the sport. Right now, it’s all good and a lot of people see the hype but I’m looking forward to 10 years down the line when I’ll be 33 and the cash cow.”
As with so many other fighters, 2020 has been a frustrating year for Stevenson. An impressive performance against Felix Caraballo in June saw him fold the Puerto Ricanin half with a brutal body shot, but also left him nursing a hand injury, which delayed plans for a busy period of fights up at 130lbs. In recent months, he’s appeared reticent to commit himself to the super-featherweight division, but today he’s clear that his mind is made up.
“My decision is made. I’m a 130-pounder,” he said. “I’m ready to take over at 130lbs. It definitely feels good being at this weight class. I feel a lot stronger than at 126lbs. I didn’t feel as strong as I did in my [previous] fight. The fans get to see a different side of me.”
Despite an undefeated record and a world title on his resumé, Stevenson’s steely self-confidence has thus far divided fans, with some cynical over his claims to be the next Mayweather Jr. Seeking their devotion, however, appears to be far from the young American’s mind, who instead is focused on earning some grudging respect from a fickle boxing public. It’s a goal he feels he’s edging closer towards.
“I believe that it’s slowly coming. Being that I’m not in the lightweight division, I think they look past me like I’m not there,” he said. “Right now a lot of people get caught up in the hype and look at all that stuff that’s going on, but look at Andre Ward and Floyd’s time. Some of those times they weren’t always that guy that everyone thought they would turn out to be. But they end up becoming what they became. I just think that I’m cut from that kind of cloth.”
Plans are now afoot for Stevenson to begin a period of dominance in his new weight class, with fights earmarked against both Jamel Herring and Miguel Berchelt for the WBO and WBC titles respectively in 2021. As ever, any question over the difficulty of the challenge is met with an unshakeable certainty.
“I deliver every time out. You haven’t seen a bad Shakur Stevenson performance yet, you haven’t seen Shakur Stevenson get in a fight and lose rounds,” he insisted. “The most rounds I’ve lost in a fight is probably two rounds. You’re gonna get a good performance out of me in every fight. You’re not gonna see, no matter who’s in front me, any type of struggle.”
Hoping to change that on December 12 is Toka Khan Clary. The 28-year-old has clocked up three back-to-back wins since a wide points defeat to Kid Galahad in 2018 but should represent a relatively straightforward challenge for the former Olympic silver medallist. It’s a fight, however, that Stevenson is taking deadly seriously, conscious that a dominant display keeps his name alongside his other young compatriots – like lightweights Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia – all vying for fame and glory.
“I was always taught to focus on what’s in front of you. We’re not looking past nobody. I know I’ve got a live fighter in front of me. A fighter who’s training to beat me, who’s training to win. When you’ve got these fighters in front of you they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Stevenson.
“They come in there to take your head off, and they’re coming in there for one thing and one thing only. And that’s to shock the world. I just can’t let that happen so I’ll be performing like a champ. You’re gonna see a superstar performance and me getting Tony Khan Clary outta there. It should be exciting to see.”
Main image and all photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.